Hydragas Energy – Renewable Power

Hydragas Energy – Our Mission

Hydragas Energy Limited is a Canadian company. Our Series-A funding for projects in Africa is slow-walking through the time of COVID-19, with closing delayed by the pandemic. We are based in Vancouver, Canada.

Our funding is to develop a full-scale demo extraction plant for Lake Kivu. The innovative technology has already been proven in an in situ pilot program. Our next steps after full-scale performance tests are to advance construction of the demonstration and commercial production stages.

Photo of Hydragas Pilot-Plant in 2004 on Lake Kivu during testing program
Pilot-testing Hydragas Technology on a budget

Methane Resources & Production

Hydragas Energy innovated its extraction technology to produce methane dissolved at depth in Lake Kivu at commercial scale. No other open water bodies can yet produce renewable natural gas in this way. It is unique.

In future we see more massive potential to harvest methane from gas hydrates or other oceanic deposits. Among these, the most urgent need is recovering methane releasing from Arctic permafrost. We know there are reports of it happening in vast areas off Siberia and Canada’s far north. There, with a massive surge in methane emissions, one can see a sense of helplessness to address the problem.

In fact, hydrates may make up half the world’s available hydrocarbon reserves. To achieve this, harvesting the solid-form, oceanic methane hydrates requires us to scale-up to our gas recovery system design. But we see ours as a simpler way to harvest it than the many failed attempts with conventional deep sea O&G equipment. These deep sea drill-rig methods can hardly be economic, being high capital and low yield.

Lake Kivu Bathymetric Map with the Resource Trap Demarcated by the Green Isobath (c Data Environnement)

Alternate Applications of Hydragas Energy Innovation

In addition to open water bodies, deep aquifers also trap vast amount of methane formed with coal. Methane, typically as in coal-seam gas (CSG) deposits, exists in vast quantities in Queensland and New South Wales, Australia. Harvesting this methane from aquifers with our equipment is a simple, small-footprint, down-hole process. It is achieved without most of the controversial downsides of current methods used for CSG. In other words, most methane-bearing water sources will be amenable. All can be put into production with versions of Hydragas’s technology. We aim to develop each of these added methods in future, as R&D funding allows.

Other Forms of Methane Resource 

Methane needs high pressure to dissolve and remain trapped in solution. So as a result, methane can remain fully dissolved in water deeper than 150 m. Significantly, Lake Kivu is 486 m deep. It is because high pressure is needed to compensate for methane’s low solubility. So here we can find methane in extensive deep water traps. Similarly, we can even find large reserves  trapped in permanent ice.

Trapped methane in hydrates represents the world’s largest energy reserve. Firstly, it is helpful that is a low-carbon resource. Secondly, it is a significant, but untapped hydrocarbon resource. So it has all the attributes of a major new energy supply. But it hasn’t become that yet, due to a lack of know-how and experience. So it is here that Hydragas can help define methane’s long-term role as a leading global, renewable energy provider. Here, its contribution will be through its know-how and experience.

Hydragas Energy – Company Objectives

degassed water during pilot testing on Lake Kivu
Degassing water in the Hydragas Pilot Program

Philip Morkel founded Hydragas Energy originally as a technology developer and licensor. Our company is therefore positioned as a leading gas recovery innovator and solutions provider. We will deploy this capability by developing large-scale methane gas extraction facilities at amenable sites. In this pursuit, Hydragas will undertake to build and operate these plants. We will operate them, producing pipeline gas and gas for power generation.

Power production will be the anchor off-taker and economic value driver. Pipeline gas usage can grow organically, complementing electrical power to domestic, commercial and industrial users. We describe in this post the impact of the project in the region. This is the region of Lake Kivu in DRC and Rwanda. The desired balance is to provide a lower overall cost of energy for all socio-economic strata. Gas and hydro power from the lake will supply them for 50 years and more.

Industry experts recognize our IP and system design capability. They are a technological and solutions breakthrough. Hydragas is therefore a primary enabler of gas-harvesting from water. It has capabilities and plant design well in advance of its peers. The advantages come from extracting gas with the highest recovery and lowest-cost of production. Its plant design enables full compliance to the MPs. It also tops all technical performance indices. So it can therefore lead the way for Lake Kivu’s optimal development.

Technology & Design Objectives

For the lake we have identified the key needs of aligning our design objectives with the Management Prescriptions. This approach has thus allowed us to develop fully compliant designs. Achieving this compliance allows us to optimize methane-from-water recovery solutions from each stratum of the resource.

The design principle is the same for any similar resources. In this case we plan to put them into production with design-build extraction plants. With this, we can achieve economic gas production for any resource of the type. We can deliver high investment returns with this capability. In fact they provide leading environmental and social benefits to host countries. Our gas plants also deliver category-leading net energy yields. In time, Hydragas can dominate such niche markets for reliable, lowest-cost energy to users.

Initial Opportunity for Hydragas Energy

The Rwanda government has been engaging qualified investors. The process is managed through the country utility (REG-EDCL) and the Rwanda Development Board (RDB). They need to boost gas production from Lake Kivu, where output lags behind their long-term power planning.

The DRC has been slower to develop. But they are developing clarity on the access to the resource and agreements required. Their programs were to harvest the shared 2.2 tcf renewable resource in 50 years, starting in 2009. Only 5% of the planned output is in production, and that only in Rwandan waters.

The countries are committed to develop capacity equally, on both sides of the lake, in compliance with the rules. To date the capacity-building has lagged, due largely to a shortfall in appropriate technology and design.  Hydragas is uniquely fully-compliant with the rules. It has the technology, know-how and ready-to-build design to achieve the governments’ plans.

Funding the Hydragas Energy Programs

To take our proposed next step, we require a $30 m investment fund-raising. This funding is needed now to secure government go-ahead to build a demonstration project, producing 5 MW of clean, renewable power. Hydragas’s 2019 funding program is therefore engaging a number of Canadian government agencies to secure initial investment funds.

Our investment program proposes to raise Series-B equity investment of $10-15 million from private investors. We will then proceed to complete installation of our demo project. Our plan completes commissioning within 15 months of the funding close. Next, we will certify proof-of-performance. We should have the requisite data and analysis after running the demonstration plant for to 3-6 months. We expect to keep the initial demo plant running for many years as a research platform. It can provide 5MW of power at a commercially solid rate of return.

Funding Commercial Project Opportunities

Hydragas will follow this demo plant with a Series-B fund-raise. This will be  for a first 50 MW commercial plant. With secured rights, we plan to build further projects sized for 50 -100 MW. We plan to have these going into production every 18 to 24 months, subject to demand. The projects have the potential to produce a total of 600 MW in Rwanda and DRC. However, actual power output will depend on how the output is split between power generation and pipeline gas supply.

The selection of power plant equipment governs output. In fact gas-fired plant allows choice between gas engines (44-46% efficient) and the higher-cost CCGT (60-62% efficiency). So total output and capital cost will vary, depending on power plant selections. However, we expect any configuration to yield high economic returns, with high confidence. 

Financial: Modelling the Opportunity

The financial models of the demo and commercial projects demonstrate strong net revenues. They also show rapid build-up of positive cash-flow from the project series. With a demo and three commercial projects in operation, net revenues approach $200 M annually within ten years. So with high available free cash flow, further capital projects can be funded with cash-in-hand and debt.

Planned operating revenue from initial project investments for 10 years
Financial Model Output – 10-year Indicative Earnings and Costs